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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published March 26 2014

Weather Talk: You may have noticed that some ice looks stained brown

The month of March has been just warm enough to melt most of our winter snow cover but not nearly warm enough to thaw the ground.

In many places where melt water has refrozen, you may have noticed that some of the ice is stained a brown color. In some cases, this stained ice is elevated above the level of other ice around.

There is some interesting science going on here, much of which I do not understand (not being a biochemist). But some of the process surely involves the rotting of vegetable matter such as leaves. As this vegetation rots, heat is created that can be just enough to melt a little of the ice in the ground. This stained melt water oozes out and then freezes in the cold air, forming layers of stained ice.

My own backyard has a large frozen melt water pond with many frozen layers of brown-stained ice rings along a row of lilacs.


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